One of the UK’s biggest car insurers is warning motorists to be on the lookout for criminals staging accidents as traffic levels return to normal.
As the final easing of lockdown approaches, Ageas Insurance is predicting a sharp increase in the number of “crash for cash” scams where fraudsters deliberately cause collisions then make inflated insurance claims for injuries and damage.
Following the easing of lockdown in July 2020, the insurer saw a 150 per cent increase in “induced collision” cases and is predicting a similar jump this year as criminals take advantage of rising traffic levels to target innocent victims.
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Robin Challand, claims director at Ageas Insurance, says: “Lockdowns made it harder for crash for cash scammers to operate because with less traffic on the road it made it more difficult to disguise their actions. But as restrictions are lifted and road use returns to more normal levels, that’s when we see these criminals start to re-emerge and put innocent motorists at risk by causing accidents.
“We’re urging motorists to be vigilant and be aware of some of the tell-tale signs of a scam.”
Crash for cash scams work in a number of ways but one of the most common and dangerous methods is for criminals to deliberately cause an accident with an innocent driver. They then make exaggerated or completely false claims for damage to their vehicle or personal injuries.
Almost 200,000 claims a year are thought to be linked to such scams, costing the insurance industry millions of pounds and pushing up premiums for everyone.
Earlie this year the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) identified Birmingham as the UK’s crash for cash capital and Aegas’s data backs this up, highlighting Leicester, Coventry, Nottingham, Sheffield and London as other hot spots.
Stephen Dalton, head of intelligence and investigations at the IFB, echoed Mr Challand’s warning. He said: “As traffic levels continue to get back to normal, drivers should be cautious of crash for cash scams on the road as fraudsters may sadly be looking to make up for lost time. It’s essential that drivers follow safe-driving guidelines to help prevent themselves from falling victim to this dangerous scam.
“In addition, if someone suspects they’ve seen a crash for cash attempt it can be reported to our confidential and anonymous Cheatline online or on 0800 422 0421.”
How to spot a crash for cash scam
Ageas has highlighted some of the telltale clues that can point to a crash for cash scam in operation. These include:
- The other person driving erratically before the incident, including sharp braking for no reason
- The driver starting to move onto a roundabout and then stopping for no reason
- The driver suddenly turning right on a mini-roundabout, after appearing to be travelling
- The driver encouraging you to pull out at a junction but then crashing into you
- The driver handing pre-written information straight after the accident
- The driver seemingly exaggerating their injuries
- The driver acting particularly unphased after the collision
- The driver blameing someone else who was driving erratically in front of them and has since
driven off (this could be an example of the scammer using an accomplice)
- The rear passenger looking out the rear window (advising the driver when the vehicle
behind is close)